Add Textures to Your Portraits with Photoshop

It’s easy to add texture effects to any image with this simple Photoshop technique.  Of course, not every portrait is going to benefit from the addition of textures, but when you come across one that can, you’ll be ready after watching this Photoshop tutorial on how to add textures to your portraits.

If you’ve got Photoshop or one of several image editing software alternatives with the following features:  Layers, Masks, Blending Modes and Opacity Adjustment, you’ll be able to easily add textures to your images using this technique.

What You’ll Need

Image editing software. This can be anything from the latest full version of Photoshop to a good app on your phone.  Here are a couple that might work for you if you’d rather not shell out some cash for Photoshop:

Texture images. Many image editors with effects packages come with a set of built-in textures. You can also find free texture images on the web; many people are happy to share depending on how you plan to use their images. Of course, shooting and working with your own texture images will make yours truly unique. The following textures were shot with an iPhone as they were discovered on and around a local sidewalk.

I also offer textures in my guide to Digital Backgrounds & Compositing Techniques, which goes in-depth into how to work with Photoshop layers and masks to replace backgrounds and create other effects.  I’d encourage you to download that package, but you can download some texture files for free (these are the same ones used in the video tutorial).

Add Textures to Your Images

First thing I do in this Photoshop tutorial is open an image.  Notice in this tutorial, I’m using something that’s appropriate for texturing, a portrait with a plain background.  Other types of portraits will work, but something like this can really benefit from adding a texture element.  You’ll see that we go a little further in our demo of this Photoshop technique.  The inset below displays the set of textures I’ll use throughout this tutorial.

Mask Part of the Texture

After adding and blending the “base 18” texture with a Linear Burn blending mode, we mask some of it off the model.  This part isn’t always necessary, but I thought I’d demonstrate it for this tutorial.  Next, I throw in another texture, “base 19,” and finally try the two border files shown.  Watch the video to see the details on the settings (blending modes, opacity settings, etc.).


Experiment with Photoshop and Textures

The rest is about manipulating and adjusting the various elements in the Layers stack to blend textures into the base image to your liking.  As I try to make clear in the video, all of this is relatively easy with a little practice.  The obvious benefit is being able to quickly blend textures into your images, but you’ll also learn so much about basic and intermediate Photoshop skills by getting familiar with these techniques.